Events in India are capturing worldwide attention. Apart from the usual political banter, one new expression has entered the body politic of India – “beef”. Beef politics prevails. It began a long time ago but came into force after the brutal lynching of a poor Muslim man who was killed by a frenzied crowd on the suspicion that he had slaughtered a cow – an animal revered by many Hindus. There was no let up in the mass hysteria that followed. At the same time, silence by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose name always evokes memories of the Gujarat massacre, added fuel to the political fire. As an India watcher and a friend and well-wisher, I never cease to be amazed at the dichotomy in the Indian mindset. One part of it wants to go ahead and be among the top 10 advanced countries in the world while the other part is bent on regression and dragging India down. However, even a neutral observer of Desi (local) politics in India comes to the conclusion that communalistic and racial behavior has increased since Modi has come to power. You can read and see that even Mahatma Gandhi has been reviled and there have been public suggestions to remove his picture from Indian currency. A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stalwart has proposed that statues of Godse his killer be erected across India! “What is happening to my country?” asked Gopal a US-based college professor. The answer lies with Indians themselves. Are they going to let a group of ferocious extremists tear down the fabric of “beautiful India”; are they going to succumb to the onslaught of bigotry, intolerance and hatred? The beauty of India lies in its diversity. Its mosaic of religious groups Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and people of other faiths and their diverse belief yet common Indian cultural base is truly a grand sight. Temples, mosques, churches and their architectural beauty are worth a treasure. The gains made after partition should not be undone. A democracy and a free and courageous media should not be silent about what is happening. I am happy to note that Hindus like Lalu Prasad and many others have openly admitted that many Hindus eat beef. Those who encourage people to kill hapless Muslims must be told that India imports arms, technology and other goods from people who relish eating beef! In fact India is a major exporter of beef and since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come to power, beef exports have actually increased. To me the RSS is like Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS). They kill and encourage fanaticism. India has numerous problems, the least of which is eating beef! Let the harbingers of hate channelize India’s energy to fight corruption, disease, hunger and alleviate the sufferings of the common man. Was that not Gandhiji’s goal? — Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena
Is this Gandhiji’s India?